Masson Mills Overseer’s Office
Masson Mills Overseer’s Office

Thomas Marshall was Masson Mill’s most famous superintendent at Sir Richard Arkwright's Masson Mills until November 1790.

In 1791 he made contact via a friend with Henry Cruger and Col. William Stephens Smith, who were both visiting England from America at the time. The latter persuaded him to emigrate to America, where there was a urgent need for people who had a comprehensive knowledge of Arkwright's cotton spinning system.

A letter which Marshall wrote to Alexander Hamilton shortly after his arrival in New York, dated July 19th 1791, (transcribed in the Letters of Alexander Hamilton, Ed. H. Syrett, Vol VIII), substantiates these details. From other correspondence between Marshall and Hamilton there is evidence that he was a key figure in the foundation of the first textile mill to be built in Paterson, at Passaic Falls. He was employed in Alexander Hamilton's Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures, (SUM). In 1796 the SUM ceased being a manufacturing enterprise, and Alexander Hamilton gave Thomas Marshall a letter, (dated May 27th 1796) to take to Oliver Wolcott (the new Secretary of the Treasury) in Philadelphia, recommending Marshall for a clerkship in the department.

Information on the first Passaic mills and Thomas Marshall's role is fairly scanty both on the internet and on this side of the Atlantic, but as a definitive book about Masson Mills is currently being written it would be interesting to include some information about the American connection via Thomas Marshall with Masson Mills.

We are interested in any information or leads, which can be sent by contacting us here.

For example:

  • a) Information on Thomas Marshall’s life before his emigration to America, for example where he was born, his education, his role at Masson Mills etc. There are very few C18th documents surviving at Masson Mills.
  • b) Any information or pictures of John Callaway’s Mill in Canterbury, which Thomas Marshall was instrumental in building.
  • c) Information on Thomas Marshall’s birth, marriage or death certificate.
  • d) Pictures, copies of drawings or plans for the first Paterson mill, which was driven by oxen, also any pictures plans or drawings of the other water-powered mills at Passaic which were built in the early 1790’s.
  • e) Any information about Marshall’s work for the SUM – the only information we have is gleaned from the Letters of Alexander Hamilton mentioned above.
  • f) Hamilton’s letter recommending Thomas Marshall to Wolcott, which is printed in the Wolcott Papers, vii, 29, which is unavailable in the UK.
  • g) Any information about Thomas Marshall after 1796.